I found this recipe in the October '09 issue of Bon Appetit magazine. The picture really appealed to me, which is mostly why I decided to make it. The magazine chefs didn't frost the sides of the cakes, just the layers, and I thought it achieved a very intriguing visual effect. Overall, the recipe wasn't too difficult; my frosting, however, just would not become the proper consistency. It tasted great, but was pretty gooey (overworked, perhaps?), so alas, I gave up and frosted the sides. The applesauce kept the cake nice and moist, and the apples and walnuts (which I substitued- cheaper than pecans) added a fun texture.
So, without further ado, the recipe:
Fuji Apple Spice Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting
3 cups all purpose flour
1 3/4 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
1/4 teaspoon ground or freshly grated nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
1 1/4 cups sugar
3/4 cup (packed) golden brown sugar
3 large eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 tablespoons bourbon, apple brandy, or rum (optional)(I used American Honey bourbon)
1 1/2 cups unsweetened applesauce
2 medium Fuji or Gala apples, peeled, halved, cored, cut into 1/3-inch cubes
1 1/2 cups finely chopped pecans (or walnuts!)(about 6 oz.)
1 8-ounce package cream chees, room temperature
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
pinch of salt
3 cups powdered sugar (measured, then sifted)
coarsely chopped toasted pecans (or walnuts)(for garnish)
Position rack in center of oven and preheat to 350 degrees. Butter and flour two 9-inch-diameter cake pans with 2-inch-high sides. Line bottom of each pan with parchment paper round. Whisk first seven ingredients in medium bowl. Using electric mixer, beat 1 cup butter in large bowl until fluffy. Add both sugars and beat until smooth. Add eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat in vanilla, then bourbon, if desired (mixture may look curdled). Add flour mixture to egg mixture in 3 additions alternately with applesauce in 2 additions, beating until blended after each addition. Stir in apples and pecans. Divide batter between cake pans; smooth tops.
Bake cakes until tester inserted into center of each comes out clean, about 40 mintues. Transfer cakes to racks and cool in pans 15 minutes. Cut around pan sides to loosen cakes. Invert cakes onto racks; peel off parchment paper. Place another rack atop 1 cake and invert again so that cake is rounded side up. Repeat with second cake. Cool completely. Can be made 1 day ahead. Wrap each cake in plastic and store at room temperature.
Using electric mixter, beat cream cheese and butter in large bowl until smooth. Beat in vanilla extract and pinch of salt. Gradually add powdered sugar, beating until frosting is smooth and creamy, about 2 minutes.
Using long serrated knife, trim off rounded tops of cakes to make level; brush off any loose crumbs. Transfer 1 cake to platter, trimmed side up. Drop half of frosting (about 1 1/2 cups) by spoonfuls atop cake. Spread frosting evenly to edges of cake. Top with second cake, trimmed side down. Drop remaining frosting by spoonfuls onto top of cake, leaving sides of cake plain. Spread frosting to top edges of cake, swirling and creating peaks, if desired. Sprinkle with nuts. Let cake stand at room temperature 1 hour to allow frosting to set slightly.